A helicopter carrying Israeli hostages previously released by Hamas lands at Sheba Medical Center on the sixth day of the temporary ceasefire after Hamas blamed “technical problems” for the delay, while family and friends in the early hours of November 30, 2023 Ramat near Gan, Israel.
Alexi J. Rosenfeld | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Just minutes before the fragile ceasefire expired, Israel and Hamas agreed to extend their ceasefire for at least another 24 hours.
During the six-day lull in fighting, nearly 100 hostages were released from Hamas captivity in Gaza as of Wednesday – just over 70 Israelis and 24 foreigners, mostly Thai farm workers – as well as 210 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli custody. Under the terms of the agreement between the warring parties, three Palestinian prisoners will be exchanged for each Israeli hostage.
“The operational pause will continue in light of the efforts of the mediators to continue the process of releasing the hostages and subject to the conditions of the framework,” the Israel Defense Forces wrote on its official X account.
Qatar, a key broker of the deal and which has also been the site of Hamas’s political split since 2012, noted the continuation of humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza under the terms of the ceasefire.
“The Palestinian and Israeli sides, within the framework of the joint mediation of the State of Qatar, have reached an agreement to extend the humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip for another day under the same previous conditions, namely a ceasefire and the entry of humanitarian aid,” Das said Qatar Foreign Ministry in a statement.
US President Joe Biden confirmed on Wednesday that one of the released hostages had dual Israeli-American citizenship.
Senior officials from Qatar, Egypt, the United States and Israel were involved in the ceasefire talks, and many were working to extend the agreement, which was set to expire Thursday morning. Both sides have accused each other of temporarily violating the pause in fighting.
RAMALLAH, WEST BANK – NOVEMBER 30: A bus carrying a group of 30 released Palestinian prisoners heads downtown after they were released from the Israeli prison in Ramallah, West Bank, on November 30, 2023. Hamas has reportedly freed 16 Israeli and foreign hostages from Gaza in the latest hostage-prisoner exchange under the current temporary ceasefire, which expires Thursday morning. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt | Getty Images News | Getty Images
Israel’s seven-week war with the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza is its bloodiest yet, killing more than 14,500 people in the besieged Gaza Strip, according to health authorities there.
Israel’s air and land offensive was launched in retaliation for a Hamas terror attack in southern Israel that killed about 1,200 people and took about 240 more hostage in the Gaza Strip. According to the Israeli authorities, there are still around 160 hostages there.
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